NYCFC's New York City Soccer Initiative kicked off on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrated the opening of the first ten—of the eventual 50—mini-pitches across all five boroughs in New York City.
ICYMI: #NYCSI Social Recap
New York One's Shannan Ferry reported live from East Harlem, where she was joined by Gabrielle Fialkoff of the New York City Mayor's Office and NYCFC's Paul Jeffries. Fialkoff described #NYCSI as an initiative that will "bring free soccer and mentoring programs to over 10,000 children in New York City."
Paul Jeffries agrees, and he knows just how big an impact soccer can have in the community. "First of all, it's fun, and you'll see the smiles on the kids faces later today," said Jeffries. "Additionally, we were involved in a project to build a pitch not too far from here at a public school back in 2010, and since then it's one of the only schools that has received platinum for health and wellness."
"So we've seen the impact as far as how soccer can improve health and wellness outcomes for kids."
In Brooklyn, News 12 gave a shout out to two of the new fields in their borough, where P.S. 335 Granville T. Woods and P.S. 66 both got brand new pitches.
The New York Daily News put it like this:
"City officials including First lady Chirlane McCray, senior advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver are set to cut the ribbon at a new pitch at Public School 83 in Harlem Tuesday. Players from the New York City Football Club planned to join in — and stick around for a soccer scrimmage."
The Sports Business Journal wrote up a summary of proceedings as well, highlighting the public-private partnership that has resulted in a $3 million commitment from the New York City Mayor's Office and NYCFC.
In other MLS news: @NYCFC cutting the ribbons on 10 mini-soccer fields today as part of $3m effort to build 50 fields in the 5 boroughs.
In a video interview CNN World Sport's Don Riddell told NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira, "You kind of have to live here to appreciate how excited this country is about soccer."
Vieira agreed, and he thinks MLS is a large part of that excitement.
"MLS is doing a lot of really good work to develop young players, to improve their games," said Vieira.
"In another ten to fifteen years, I believe MLS will challenge the top European leagues in bringing the best young talent to this country."
That might seem like it's still a ways off, but Vieira knows that the grassroots soccer movement in this country is something that has the power to change things sooner rather than later.
One of those steps comes in the form of #NYCSI. Vieira praised the initiative, as well as the community embrace which makes it possible.
"We have fans that, every weekend, home or away, are coming to support our players, to give their best, and to be close to us," said the gaffer. "To have those pitches around New York shows that the community is really important to us.
"We want to be close to our fans."